NEW YORK – Chris Drury became the New York Rangers’ captain Friday, one night before the club opened the regular season in the Czech Republic.
Drury, who served as co-captain of the Buffalo Sabres with Danny Briere before signing with the Rangers in 2007, got the nod from coach Tom Renney and general manager Glen Sather during a team dinner on Friday night. The Rangers start the new campaign in Prague with a pair of games this weekend against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Drury, raised as a Rangers fan in Connecticut, said he also served as captain in high school, at Boston University, and on his baseball team that reached the Little League World Series.
“To be a captain anywhere in the NHL is a huge honour and a huge thrill,” Drury said during a conference call. “To get to do it with the Rangers, the team that I grew up cheering for and going to the Garden as a kid, and now to be a captain it’s hard to put into words. It’s a huge honour. I’m just thrilled.”
The 32-year-old centre, entering his 10th NHL season, is the 25th captain in Rangers history. Drury had 25 goals and 33 assists in 82 games last season when Jaromir Jagr served as Rangers captain. Jagr left the team as a free agent and signed with Omsk Avangard of the KHL in Russia.
“Chris Drury is a natural leader who possesses all of the qualities and characteristics we desire from our captain,” Sather said in a statement. “He has always been known as a clutch performer and a winner. Chris leads by example with his tireless work ethic on and off the ice, and is extremely deserving of this honour.”
The Rangers will open the North American portion of the schedule next Friday at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. Markus Naslund, the longtime former captain of the Vancouver Canucks, and Scott Gomez will serve as alternate captains.
“There are a lot of good guys that Tom and Glen could have picked,” Drury said. “I am going to lean heavily on them, and hopefully we’ll tackle it all together. It’s a pretty good mix. That’s how Danny and I did it and it seemed to work well.”